Light a Candle

Things have been pretty scary the past few weeks, even within the hard year that 2017 has been. We had a family health scare just a little while ago (all better now), plus the ongoing garbage fire that is US politics.

So I wanted to spend a bit of time focusing on things that have been bringing joy and light into my life, in case these things could do the same for you. At the bottom, I list some resources I’ve been using to stay up to date on politics with a minimum of hassle/frustration.

Sources of Joy

One of the things I do to relax is listening to podcasts. I started listening to podcasts over ten years ago when I was out in Oregon doing my M.A. in Folklore. Back then, the only show I listened to was Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing. These days, I’m a part of two podcasts and subscribe to many more. The two below have been particularly helpful for me this summer:

Friends at the Table – A marvelous actual-play tabletop role-playing game podcast with great players, engrossing worlds, and amazing music by composer Jack de Quidt (who is also one of the players). The current season Twilight Mirage is especially engrossing, telling the tale of a far-future utopia in crisis.

Waypoint Radio – The home podcast of video game website Waypoint. They focus less on giving games scores and more on story structure, design, and the political dimensions of games. They sometimes also talk politics (esp. labor and health policy) and are clear and open in their progressive leanings.

When I’m not listening to podcasts, I am often chilling out with my wife watching TV or watching something in the background while I work on this or that. Here are some shows and video series that have brought me joy the past few months:

DuckTales – The original show was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, and the 2017 remake on DisneyXD is very amusing so far. I am a total sucker for anything that plays in the ‘modern multi-genre pulp’ mode where mummies and vampire and Atlantis and so on are all real.

Breakfast & Battlegrounds – This is a video series on Waypoint comprised of recordings of the game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Breakfast & Battlegrounds is complete with a (funny, loose) continuity, special music (boat jazz!) and fun special guests. Austin & Patrick from Waypoint play as father & son team Crowbar & Sickle, in search of the elusive Chicken Dinner of victory. The most fun I’ve had watching a video game in some time.

Killjoys – A fun, sexy, space-based action-adventure series which starts with great episodic stories and builds to a cool metaplot. The showrunner is the same as the urban fantasy series Lost GirlKilljoys is about a pair of space-age bounty hunters called Killjoys who travel The Quad (four planet/moons bound together by a corporate-owned government).

And of course, since I’m a gamer, here’s a recent game I loved playing:

Pyre – The new game from Supergiant Games, who created Bastion and Transistor. It’s a cool fantasy combination of a visual novel/choose your own adventure and a magical sports game. The biggest draw for me in this game is the cool characters and their evolving relationships with one another. Also, you can complete a play-through in about 10-12 hours.

Podcasts
Pod Save America
 – Ex-Obama staffers break down the news and snark along the way. Unabashedly Democrat-leaning & progressive, a bit bro-y, though not gross.
Pod Save The People – Activist Deray Mckesson provides a grassroots view on politics, with a strong focus on the impact to and organizing by communities of color.

Website
What The Fuck Just Happened Today? – Trump-focused digest of American political news.

Joy of Listening – Nov 2015

I listen to a *lot* of podcasts. The first one I remember is I Should Be Writing, which was my lifeline to the world of SF/F writing during my MA work in Oregon. I picked the habit back up when I was working as a traveling book rep, since my working week often included 20+ hours of driving.

So now that I work from home, I find that I’ve got way more podcasts that I’m interested in than I can make time to listen to them, even listening over breakfast, lunch, dishes, and afternoon walks.

And since misery loves company, I’m going to recommend some podcasts and episodes, so you too can know the joy of having too many wonderful things to listen to:

Ditch Diggers – A Must-listen for working writers, especially in the SF/F prose world. Hosts Mur Lafferty (of I Should Be Writing Fame) and Matt Wallace give you the no-BS look at what it’s like to write for a living. Ditch Diggers is the Business of Writing Podcast I would have started if they hadn’t gotten to it first – I’m very grateful that they did, because they’re doing a great job.

PlayWell – Games for the Greater Chaotic Good with Adam Koebel – I absolutely love the way Adam talks about making game spaces inclusive and using them to help talk people through difficult topics.

Book Riot – The flagship podcast of the Bookish site Book Riot. Lots of news about the publishing world, with a focus on Literary Fiction.

The Roundtable Podcast – Hosted by Dave “Creageous” Robison, The Roundtable Podcast not only does creator interviews, but they also do regular brainstorming sessions, where a guest writer will bring in an idea or in-progress story, and the hosts (including a working professional Guest Host) help take the idea up to the next level. I’ve appeared on the show a few times, and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had on a podcast as a guest.

And of course, you can hear me on The Skiffy and Fanty Show, mostly talking about media, and also now on Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans.

So, now I turn the mic. What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Hexomancy Week One

Hexomancy has been out in the world for one week, and I’m quite happy at the sales #s so far. Thank you so much to the folks who pre-ordered, spread the word, and so on.

This was a special book for me – I wrote it in just over a month, thanks to an improved outlining process and getting into a great writing rhythm. I had a ton of ideas of what I wanted to happen in the book, and I knew the characters really well, so I was able to let loose during the drafting process.

Here’s a recap of my latest PROMONADO activity:

The first review round-up from last week.

I shared my Favorite Pop-Culture Geeks over at SF Signal.

Kingdom of Evil Podcast – I talk about book publicity/promotion

Last Chance Salon Podcast – Writing! Star Wars! Laughter!

Reader Mari live-tweeted her reading of HEXOMANCY and it was amazing. There are some substantial spoilers involved, so be forewarned.

Mari also reviewed the book.

Hexomancy hits all my sweet spots for good crunchy urban fantasy fiction, with laugh out loud snark-studded dialogue, just the right amount of nostalgic callbacks to things geeks of all genre-spheres will love, and crisply paced prose that moves the story forward at downhill-on-black-ice-slope’s pace.”

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Hexomancy, here’s a handy page with an index of the various ebook retailers.

Hexomancy cover

And if you’ve read Hexomancy, please consider leaving an honest review on the various retailer sites. They have a big impact on discovery, helping readers decide if it’s a book for them.

Bonus! If you’re attending the Baltimore Book Festival this week, come to my panels or swing by during the meet-and-greet to say hello!

The Flurry Before The Storm

Hi folks! I know it’s supposed to be the calm before the storm, but sometimes I get too excited.

I wanted to give you all a heads-up that coming into next week, I’m going to be quite active with promotion for Hexomancy, the fourth Ree Reyes book, and that promo will eventually give way to promotion for Genrenauts: The Shootout Solution.

Hexomancy coverShootout Solution cover

But first, here’s a bit of catch-up of what I’ve been up to over the last month:

At GenCon, Wesley Chu (now a John W. Campbell Award-winner) and I talked with Greg Wilson and Brad Beaulieu of Speculate! The Podcast For Writers, Readers, and Fans) about our publishing journeys, as the start of a new series of episodes.

Then I turned the mic and interviewed Greg and Brad on their journeys so far, their podcasting, hobbies, and life balance.

Tor.com released a free collection with sample chapters from each of the launch list of novellas, including the first Genrenauts story.

Audec-Hal was included in Bradley Beaulieu’s List of Top 10 Metropolis stories.

And right now, Shield and Crocus is on sale for just $1.99 in ebook – grab a copy if you’ve been holding off, or buy a copy for a friend if you feel so inclined.

Deb Stanish interviewed me for the Uncanny Magazine Podcast about my essay on representation in the Marvel & DC Cinematic Universes.

And there’s plenty more to come!

PROMONADO Report

June was a whirlwind, and now moving into July, we’ve come through the eye of the PROMONADO and are now going through the second half, with CONvergence and ReaderCon, as well as more podcastery.

Today, I’m on Adventures of Sci-Fi Publishing, talking about SHIELD AND CROCUS, Tor.com’s new imprint, the Hachette/Amazon situation, and more. There’s also a giveaway for a SHIELD AND CROCUS bundle (paperback, audiobook, ebook).

And just a couple of days before that, my spot on the Reader/Writer podcast went live.

Fangirl Nation has a review of CELEBROMANCY– “a creative look at an intricate movie culture and works as a commentary on the power of that culture. Underwood continues to write a series that is engaging, filled with pop culture references and entertaining to boot.”

SHIELD AND CROCUS gets a mention on Literologie’s Summer Reading List.

And lastly, I squee about Beth Cato’s THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER for Tor.com’s Writers on Writing segment.

Clockwork Dagger cover